Does Israel Have A Right To Exist? Is A Trick Question

By Yousef Munayyer

Yousef Munayyer, a political analyst and writer, is Executive Director of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights.

There’s a famous scene in the 1992 movie “My Cousin Vinny” where the out of work hairdresser Mona Lisa Vito, played by Marisa Tomei, takes the witness stand to provide expert testimony. The prosecutor, aiming to discredit and belittle Vito, asks her a convoluted question about the precise engine timing of a specific car. “That’s a bullshit question!” Mona Lisa cries. And in response to the smug grin of the prosecutor, proceeds to explain that the car in question does not exist.  

(See 2-minute video clip posted at end of article)

The performance earned Tomei an Academy Award, and is worth rewatching. But it’s more than just a delightful scene. It’s a useful template for the kind of questioning that appears sincere but is actually an evasion tactic. And it’s par for the course for those critical of Israel’s policies toward Palestinians.

I immediately thought about this scene when I watched a recent interview of Tamika Mallory. In it, Mallory was asked by The Firing Line’s Margaret Hoover a question that is constantly posed to critics of Israel’s policies:

“Does Israel have a right to exist?”

Mallory for her part realized at once that this was a trick question.

“I believe everyone has a right to exist,” she said multiple times, before shutting down the conversation and telling Hoover to move on.

This was absolutely correct. After all, “Does Israel have a right to exist” is a trick question. The truth is that no state has a “right to exist” — not Israel, not Palestine, not the United States. Neither do Zimbabwe, Chile, North Korea, Saudi Arabia or Luxembourg have a “right to exist.”

States do exist; there are about 200 in our world today, even though there are thousands of ethno-religious or ethno-linguistic groups. And these states don’t exist because they have a “right” to exist. They exist only because certain groups of people amassed enough political and material power to make territorial claims and establish governments, sometimes with the consent of those already living there and, oftentimes, at their expense.

Most people understand this.

I’ve never heard anyone demand to know whether Switzerland, or even the United States, has “a right to exist.” States come and go over time; borders can change, names can change, regimes can change and yes, discriminatory systems underpinning regimes can change, too. But one state demands to be beyond reproach through a mythical “right to exist”: Israel.

Can you imagine asking indigenous Americans and indigenous rights activists — fighting for the rights of a population whose languages, societies, culture and possessions were categorically decimated in the process of erecting the United States — whether the United States has a “right to exist”? That you can’t imagine this is testimony to the disingenuousness of the question. For this question is asked — almost always of critics of Israel’s policies — not for the purposes of debate and discourse, but rather, to create a gotcha moment, to undermine the credibility of the person questioned. It is intellectually dishonest and intended, almost always, to silence critics and criticism of Israeli policies.

Worse, factors like the unfortunate though all-too-often-commonplace conflation of the State of Israel with Judaism and world Jewry, coupled with the awful history of persecution Jews have faced, mean that anyone who doesn’t answer the question about Israel’s right to exist with an unequivocal “yes” risks being portrayed as an eliminationist radical worthy of labels like “anti-Semite” and is otherwise marginalized.

In other words, it’s a set-up.

Criticizing Israel’s policies toward the Palestinian people, including during its establishment and since, in the form of discriminatory policies against refugee repatriation, should never be conflated with eliminationism. The policies of all states should be open to criticism.

As Mallory rightly noted, it is humans, not states, that have a right to exist. This includes all people: those who identify as Israelis and Palestinians alike, along with seven billion others.

People also have a whole set of other rights — human rights, which states cannot deny. These include the right to free movement, the right to consent to being governed, the right to enter and exit their country, the right not to be tortured or collectively punished, and so on.

It is by guaranteeing these rights and only by guaranteeing them that states derive their moral legitimacy; it is not from some mythical “right to exist” or even the historical need of their people, but rather from the extent to which their policies respect the rights of people.

The question should not be “Does Israel have a right to exist” but rather, “Is the way in which Israel exists right?” And for us Palestinians at least, the answer is clearly NO.

For Palestinians, the establishment of the state of Israel had very real and horrific consequences. It meant the vast majority of our people were forced from their land, separated from their families, possessions and property. It meant their villages, hundreds of them, were destroyed so they wouldn’t have homes to return to. It meant they might die in a refugee camp, longing to return to farm their ancestral fields. It meant they would live as second-class citizens, seen as a “demographic threat” to the state. And it meant that if they objected to this, or even just tried to walk home, they could be killed or imprisoned.

Does that sound right to you? Does that sound like something a state should have a “right” to do?

Since the establishment of the state of Israel involved these horrors for Palestinians, asking supporters of Palestinian rights if “Israel has a right to exist” is effectively asking them to accept that Israel had a right to treat Palestinians in this way.

People who use this intellectually dishonest question as an attempt at a gotcha game are participating, wittingly or not, in an effort to silence and marginalize criticism of Israel’s abusive policies.

And in so doing, it asks the victims of Israel’s policies to silence their criticism, defending its horrific occupation behind a claim to a “right to exist.”

Could Apartheid South Africa have defended its policies behind a claim that the regime had a “right to exist”? Could Jim Crow Alabama have claimed a “right to exist” to defend its separate and unequal policies? Last time I checked, South Africa and Alabama still exist; so do white and black populations in each, and they both exercise self-determination through equal rights to the vote. What no longer exists are the overt and systemic policies of Apartheid and Jim Crow and, even though much work remains to achieve real equality in both places.

We should fight for that outcome in Israel/Palestine, where the rights of all people to freedom, justice and equality come before the so-called “rights” of any state to deny them.

Israel can continue to try to deny the rights of Palestinians for some time, but it will only become harder to do with each passing day. Attempting to hide behind dishonest rhetorical devices is not going to cut it anymore.

Sourced from Alison’s Weir’s website IF AMERICANS KNEW
VIDEO CLIP : 2.33 mins
(A “trick question” asked in court… how the feisty witness refuses to answer, knowing it’s a trick question.)

14 thoughts to “Does Israel Have A Right To Exist? Is A Trick Question”

  1. “Does Israel have a right to exist?”

    Wrong question. Israel is just a symptom. Israel or no, Jews will continue destroying the planet and mass murdering the humanity living here. Therefore, the correct question is “Do Jews have a right to exist?”

    Do Jews have a right to exist after millenniums of war, terror, misery, suffering and grief they have brought upon all nations and peoples of this world? In contrast to this overriding question, Israel is nothing, a non-issue. Jews are the root problem. No Israel and these murderous parasites simply move to another host and continue infecting humanity with their poisons. No Jews means freeing the world of it’z “Democratic” shackles and that “shitty little country” by default, returns to its origins as a Palestinian homeland.

    No Jews, no global wars, no ongoing continuation of “low intensity” wars for Jews. No Jews, no economic calamities brought on by their devious money machinations. No Jews, no terror, no genocide, no mass murder. No Jews and this dark, dead, hell-on-earth they have created, begins to bloom once again in the sunshine.

    However, when addressing this most pressing of all questions, one must first consider it from the Jews’ hive-minded, collective perspective, to wit: “It’z either us Jews or you goy, we cannot exist on this planet together.” One thing is for certain, someone of consequence, someone with real power, better damn well start coming up with answers soon, because Jews are in the final stages of destroying life as we know it on this planet. Just look at the sky above you. Turns out Chicken Little was right, the sky really is falling.

    In the end we find those Firesign Jews of our youth weren’t lying after all. “Dogs flew spaceships”, “Men and women are the same sex”, and “Your brain is not the boss” That’s right seeker, “Everything – you – know – is – WRONG!” – 1974.

    1. Even if you believe the official holocaust story, (which I don’t), it was wrong to allow the establishment of Israel as a home for Jews, in a country occupied by Arab Muslims.

      Israel took over the coastal strip, which is the only fertile part of what used to Palestine.They left the inland desert to the Palestinians.

      The arrogance and malice of Israel has been breathtaking, but western media will have none of it.

    2. Arch,
      As much as I appreciate your wordsmithery, and John Kaminski’s too, I’m not sure getting rid of Jews would much improve things. They’ve been around for far too long, with too much influence, and the global system is based on what they have been propagating and promoting. So if you step out of the church onto the pavement you’re in Talmudistan, and I’m not sure how much you’re not in it inside the churches. Cornelius Zelea Codreanu had an idea to set up a body to investigate and eradicate Jewish influence that had thoroughly permeated Romanian society, character, thinking, system. Not a bad idea but I think even that wouldn’t do it as wars predate Judaism and have been present in societies where Jews had no influence at all: ancient China and India, tribal African and American societies, etc. I’m not saying that eradicating their pernicious influence wouldn’t help but there’s more to it than just them.

  2. A more pertinent question would be, “Will certain neighboring Islamic states EVER fully accept the existence of the state of Is-ra-el?”

    The answer of “no”, I believe falls in line with Kissinger’s statement a while back that in 10 years (or whatever the number), Israel will be no more.

    So given the veracity of this, in presuming old Hank to be an (((insider))) in the know, it begs a follow-up question, “WHAT would Israel’s demise portend for the region, not to mention the world, which in turn implies WHY”

    1. The US and Israel will exist for perhaps another century or more. The nature of the “existence” will change however. The US has already lost superpower status unable to exert it’s influence like before. Developing technologies mean that nations are militarily on more equal footing. If the sh..t hit the fan even tiny Lebanon could devastate Israel. In Donaldos lifetime, both the US and Israel will slowly fade into oblivion like a former Miss Universe who once demanded attention who ages into her 40’s, 50,s and beyond just doesn’t turn heads anymore. She wore her 👑 but her time is up. No more 👙 please. A loose-fitting dress will do thank you. The passage of time changes nations. It changes people. No avoiding it. 😉

  3. Once upon a time, as (another) epic battle in the heavenly realms between the Devas and the Demons was nearing its end, the Devas, having achieved overwhelming victory then began to plan for the literal extermination of all the Demons while they had the chance.
    At this, Lord Vishnu appeared and chastised the Devas severely for their wicked plans and put an end to their blasphemy.

    Pretty sure the modern day $cientists had the small pox virus in the very same position back in the 70’s but instead of extinction elected to save a token sample. If I remember correctly they also offered as a reason it was not in their purview to usurp God.

    Nowadays they’d be punished for saying such a thing.

  4. The answer to the question of whether Israel has the right to exist is hell no.

    The reason is that Israel is a terrorist state, that is ethnic cleansing the natives and the cause of all the destruction around and in Israel. Israel is hell on earth, and no sane person thinks for one second that a state that operates in terror should be allowed.

    What the real issue here is whether Judaism has a right to exist. I have written dozens of essay making a passionate plea that it does not have a right to exist. Judaism is Communism, it is terrorism, and Israel is only logical expression of the Torah.

    This is not just a Talmudic or Protocol issue as many argue, this issue is really about the holy book of the Jews. What right does anyone have worshipping the hell god in that book? No one, and that “god” is not a god at all but Enlil. Dr. Jack Pruett, in his book “The Grandest Deception” states that the Holy Bible is not about God but about the Anunnaki. Enlil was the Anunnaki war god, he was a man, not a god.

    Humans have been totally duped worshipping a monster as god.

  5. As one who serves regularly as an expert witness (Pharmacology, Toxicology), I sure know THAT drill! “You would agree, sir, that….” After several such questions, usually minorly reworded [to avoid objection, “asked and answered”], the expert may, after good faith efforts to address the issue explicitly in question, issues [plural] implicitly underlying [lying?!?], the counterpoint answer becomes a simple, “No.”

    Some or even most members of the jury by that time have a sense of what’s happening — if one’s side in these kinds of adversarial proceedings can expect a fair hearing and judgment — and will appreciate the shutdown of the questioning attorney. Attorneys rarely will attempt the extremely dangerous question “WHY?” to elicit an “explanation”.

    For expert witnesses and others in substantially similar situations, emotional (e.g., frustration, anger) and|or aggressive responses (e.g., haughty dismissal, arrogantly “I know more than you”, etc.) prove far less effective — per issue-specific studies and case-specific testing a la “jury research”, focus groups with “mock trials” — than “No.” AND, the latter response, full of Truth, cuts quicker to the core of the matter.

    As for the question presently before us, “No.”

  6. yukon – i think enlil was enki’s brother… they followed anu to earth, all looking to extract gold from seawater…
    zecharia sitchin wrote several books on this subject…
    the sumerian kings list gives the names of the first extraterrestrial gods, then shows where the first cross-breeds came in..
    the pharaohs were their descendants, but there are those et bloodlines in other parts of the world too, the monarchs, the city bankers, the isis tribe in switzerland… most emperors claim “divine (of the vine) blood”…
    they developed the human race and ran the world around the equator back when there was a lot more ice around and the seas were a lot lower…
    religion is their psy-op control methodology, the scriptures are their manuals…
    and we are speaking their software program…
    no use asking if israel has the right to exist…
    every country is probably about as guilty…
    i’d shut the funds off on them anyway…
    if they can make it on their own, then i guess so…
    never happen though, not with the same bunch of pricks running things, and the vast majority of brainwashed jewish dimwits all to willing to take part…
    the question is – which way to the light?
    who’s got the flashlight?

    1. @Barkingdeer, at strenuous behest of wife and interior shouts from soul, I wrestle with the same last questions posed! A “fallen away Catholic”, escaped about 1964, then a vacuum I experienced like letting go of a mother or, later, a lover, a long-time partner, wife and mother of my children. Long story short, during and afterwards, I took the grand tour of those who promised to answer the very questions you asked!

      I conclude that everyone and no one has a flashlight. Each and all emit light at frequencies we do not, or cannot, necessarily perceive with physical eyes. Some present so dimly you hardly can see them. Mind you, you will know they are there with you for that moment.

      If we can’t or won’t get on compatible wavelengths, we likely have nothing to look to, aims or objectives, going forward. NONETHELESS, on to the next Light along the Way! We are a Light unto the world, we have cast off the basket under which we hid on the hill. Once upon a time, songs were sung to this glorious celebration!

      1. THE POINT?! as my wife’s (then) 12-year-old namesake granddaughter would ask, cornered by a five-minute lecture, and seeking escape.

        My convoluted point, I had to wind into it: If we can’t work out how to seek the Light, be guided by those who shine a strong light — all the while blind or hard of seeing, like me — by and with and for ourselves, for those we love, friends, neighbors, THEN how in Earth can we think to solve international problems?? Hell’s bells [my mother’s strongest epithet!], forget about your “nation”!

        Physician, heal thyself. Know thyself. The beam and mote in eye. Et alia. Just my humble opinion.

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